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U.S. Geological Survey 2018 Kīlauea Volcano eruption response in Hawai'i—After-action review

May 14, 2020

The 2018 Kīlauea Volcano eruption lasted 107 days, and now ranks as the most destructive event at Kilauea since 1790, and as one of the most costly volcanic disasters in U.S. history. Multiple simultaneous hazard events unfolded, including sustained seismic activity leading to collapse at the summit of Halema'uma'u crater and severe damage to the HVO facility, with additional eruption of lava in the Kīlauea Lower East Rift Zone that progressively grew to a total of 24 fissure openings. In response to the complex and uncertain nature of the eruption, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) team activities tended to coalesce around several interrelated core functional areas: science operations, emergency management and administration, and external communications. Upon cessation of the eruption, the USGS Hazard Response Executive Committee charged the Alaska Regional Office to lead an After-Action Review team, which focused on two basic questions: (1) what went well, and why?; and (2) what can be improved, and how? The purpose of the After-Action Review is to identify priorities for programmatic or policy improvements that the USGS can feasibly implement to advance strategic preparation for future disasters, and thereby reduce public vulnerabilities. Specifically, the review is intended to help USGS respond even better to the next eruption in Hawai'i or elsewhere by advancing any of the following goals:

  • Design better planning scenarios;
  • Enhance response team effectiveness;
  • Assist local decision makers;
  • Promote new areas of strategic research; and
  • Streamline administrative, finance, and Incident Management Team support functions during a crisis to secure continuity of operations and essential records management.
Publication Year 2020
Title U.S. Geological Survey 2018 Kīlauea Volcano eruption response in Hawai'i—After-action review
DOI 10.3133/ofr20201041
Authors Dee M. Williams, Vic F. Avery, Michelle L. Coombs, Dale A. Cox, Lief R. Horwitz, Sara K. McBride, Ryan J. McClymont, Seth C. Moran
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2020-1041
Index ID ofr20201041
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Regional Director's Office